Launching a job search? You’ve probably thought about hiring the best executive resume writer you can find.
There’s a plethora of resume writers advertising services online and through social media – but how do you know if an executive resume writer will market you effectively? What if the final product doesn’t represent your brand or industry – or you don’t understand the writer’s work?
What should you look for (and ask) when vetting the best executive resume writer for you?
I recommend setting out to qualify writers with these 7 questions, which will give you a good idea of the quality, responsiveness, and attention you’ll receive. After all, most executive resume writers represent a sizable investment (from $500 to more than $4,000).
Resume Writer Question #1 – How long have you been in business?
Resume writers who joined the industry during the economic recession sometimes did so because they saw a need during the downturn.
However, others did so because their own job search failed, which is a concern for anyone relying on them to drive a successful job-hunting effort.
Use the following queries to gain a better idea of an executive resume writer’s purpose and mission in the resume industry:
- What made you decide to offer executive resume writing services?
- When did you launch your business?
- How will I know you are in this for the long haul?
- What training have you completed?
- Will you still be in business 5+ years later when I need an update?
Resume Writer Question #2 – What was your background prior to executive resume writing?
Even though the best resume writers (both in the US and abroad) can pick up facts about your business background, there’s a striking difference between writers with a corporate history and ones who’ve only read about it.
You’ll need to carefully ask about the writer’s experience in a corporate setting, using these type of queries:
- Have you ever looked for a job yourself?
- What do you believe employers look for in a resume?
- How many interviews have you attended – as either an interviewer or job seeker?
- What is your experience in hiring or recruiting?
- In what industries and professions do you have hands-on experience?
When writing about the business of your career, a corporate or hiring background is essential to producing technically accurate, business-focused documents.
Resume Writer Question #3 – Will you write my resume yourself?
Be very cautious with this one. Some writers will tell you they are “involved with” or “direct” work in their businesses.
What this means is that your executive resume is handed off to a subcontract resume writer, who will develop the majority of (if not all) of your document.
Senior executive resume writers at the top of their game will write your resume themselves – period. They might have assistants or a team to help with other documents, but they’ll rarely (if ever) turn over the writing of your core document to another resource.
Your best bet is to look over the executive resume writing samples posted by each expert. Are there at least some similarities in style and the tone of the writing?
If it looks like each sample was developed by a different person, this can be a tip-off that you will not have a voice in selecting your own writer.
Resume Writer Question #4 – Have you won industry awards or accolades?
Again, this is an area in which to be cognizant of resume industry practices. The ONLY legitimate resume award competitions are the Toast of the Resume Industry (TORI) Awards hosted by Career Directors International,the NRWA ROAR (National Resume Writers’ Association – Recognizing Outstanding Achievement in Resumes) contest, and the Professional Association of Resume Writers competition.
The TORI contest, revered by resume writers in the US and internationally for its intensity and the preparation required to win, is judged annually by recruiters, grammar experts, careers industry leaders, and past award-winning writers.
To get an idea of the caliber of entries and winners, review the TORI award-winning resumes.
If you find resume writers who have won other awards outside of these contests, be sure to ask questions to determine whether these achievements ensure quality and accuracy in the resume writing process. Some ratings sites contain “Best Resume Writer” lists of top writers, but these are often advertising tools.
Resume Writer Question #5 – What do you know about my field?
While some resume writers are experts at pulling out your work history, there are some careers (such as IT) where you’ll fare best with an industry veteran.
As an example, some resume writers come from writing or liberal arts backgrounds, with limited experience in business or tech fields. These writers can struggle when trying to grasp the complexities of a career in a field requiring technical precision – and may not understand how to position you as a leader in your industry.
Particularly if your career is in finance, operations, or IT (or you’re seeking a federal position), you’ll benefit from asking industry-specific questions, such as:
- Can you tell me the difference between a CTO and a CIO?
- How would you describe the use of Lean Six Sigma practices?
- What is your familiarity with credit swaps, derivatives, etc. (or other terms corresponding to your industry)?
- How can you guide me through the federal job application process?
These may seem like questions for subject matter experts; however, a resume writer truly skilled in your field will be able to provide reasonable answers. Don’t be afraid to ask writers what strategy they would use for your field; the response can be quite telling.
Resume Writer Question #6 – Where did you gain your writing expertise?
Here’s where you’ll get a glimpse into the writing ability of each professional. While it’s not unusual to have a knack for writing, the best writers have undergone university training (in addition to resume industry courses). You may find English majors, business writers, or journalists in your quest for an executive resume expert.
However, be cautious if a writer tells you that his or her only credentials include reading resumes all day (in HR or recruiting). The same way reading books doesn’t make you a novelist, reviewing resumes is only part of a writer’s preparation.
Creating a compelling executive resume requires hundreds, even THOUSANDS of hours of education, training, and devotion to painstaking detail and marketing strategy, with plenty of constructive feedback from other resume experts.
Again, this is a case where reviewing samples of a writer’s work will give you a solid picture of the quality you can expect.
Resume Writer Question #7 – What credentials do you hold?
Resume writing certifications are not the only indicator of expertise. However, providers with credentials are required to follow stringent industry standards (in addition to a code of ethics)—and their skills have been independently tested and verified.
You can find credentialed writers and career coaches through the major careers industry organizations (Career Directors International, Career Coach Academy, National Resume Writers’ Association, Career Thought Leaders, The Career Experts, and the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches).
Look for MULTIPLE certifications to ascertain whether a writer has pursued ongoing professional training (an indicator of a serious resume professional).
If you’re unsure of the value behind a specific course of study, just ask! Most writers will be happy to describe the curriculum and requirements for gaining a specific certification, as they’ve often worked hard to get and maintain their credentials.